The Investigated

A scorecard to keep track of the Independent Councils

Image: Babbitt

Bruce Babbitt, secretary of the interior since 1993. A three-judge panel has named an independent counsel to investigate whether Babbitt allowed political pressure to influence the Interior Department’s 1995 rejection of an Indian casino in Hudson, Wis. Three poverty-stricken Indian tribes had applied for a gaming license but their bid was opposed by rival tribes in Minnesota who feared a new casino would siphon business from their own casinos. The Minnesota tribes later contributed $350,000 to the Democratic party. Babbitt and other Interior officials say the decision to reject the Hudson casino was not influenced by politics.

Image: Ron Brown

Ron Brown, secretary of commerce, 1993-1996, was being investigated on charges that his former business partner, Nolanda Hill, had paid him $400,000 to buy out Brown’s share of a partnership in their consulting firm. At issue: whether Hill’s payment was an attempt to buy influence with the commerce secretary. The inquiry was ended after Brown died in a plane crash in Croatia on April 3, 1996. Independent counsel: Daniel Pearson.

Image: Cisneros

Henry Cisneros, secretary of housing and urban development, 1993-1996, was indicted last December on charges that he lied about hush money he paid his ex-mistress. The indictment alleges that, during the background check for his nomination as HUD secretary, Cisneros claimed that he paid his former mistress no more than $10,000 and had stopped the payments to her. The indictment claims that Cisneros paid her $250,000 and kept the payments flowing until 1994. Cisneros pleaded not guilty and is set to go to trial Nov. 4. Independent counsel: David Barrett.

Image: Mike Espy

Mike Espy, secretary of agriculture, 1993-1994, was indicted last August on charges that he took more than $35,000 in illegal gifts from Tyson Foods, Quaker Oats Co., Sun-Diamond Growers of California and other companies that he had been in charge of regulating. The gifts included tickets to pro football and basketball games and airline tickets. Espy pleaded not guilty. His trial date is March 30. Independent counsel: Donald Smaltz.

Image: Webster Hubbell File Photo

Webster Hubbell, associate attorney general, 1993-1994, pleaded guilty to tax evasion and mail fraud Dec. 6, 1994. Hubbell had fraudulently billed personal expenses to his clients between 1989 and 1992 while he was a partner at the Rose Law Firm in Little Rock, Ark., where Hillary Rodham Clinton was his partner. Hubbell was snared in controversy again when it was revealed that a group of President Clinton’s associates —Vernon Jordan, Mickey Kantor, Erskine Bowles and Mack McClarty— had arranged lucrative consulting work for Hubbell in 1994 before he went to jail. Hillary Clinton said last April that their assistance to Hubbell wasn’t part of a scheme to get Hubbell to conceal what he knew about the Whitewater real estate deal. Independent counsel: Kenneth Starr.

Image: Labor Secretary Herman

Alexis Herman, secretary of labor since April of 1997. In January, Laurent Yene, a former business associate of Herman, charged that while Herman served in the White House Office of Public Liaison during Clinton’s first term, she had used her influence with the Federal Communications Commission to win a license for a telecommunications firm. In return, Yene said, he delivered an undisclosed sum of cash to her. Herman said, “These allegations aren’t true.” The Justice Department in conducting a preliminary inquiry.

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